It's been over three years since my last fish and chips post. While there was nothing wrong with it, I've always been a fan of the adage "if it ain't broke, then take it apart and make it better". Yep, I was "that kid" that would take apart a brand new Nintendo (amongst other household items) to figure out how to make it play foreign games. Today, I blame credit that inquisitive nature for my penchant for cooking without recipes.
When I get asked if I follow my own recipes, I usually give a long answer that includes the definition of the word "recipe", but my short answer is "no". Some people want consistency when they make a dish. For me, I relish the small variations that occur when cooking without a recipe. Part of it is the element of surprise, but it's also driven by the small chance that a change will make a big improvement in the finished dish. It's a process of culinary evolution and lessons learned in one dish often carry over to many others.
I've always double fried french fries, but I'd assumed I'd end up with a dry tough brick if I tried applying the same technique to meat or fish. After realizing a double fry was the secret to making crispy tebasaki, I decided to try this technique in other fried dishes.
As it turns out, double frying works brilliantly with fish and chips, rendering the beer batter light, crisp and keeping it crisp long after coming out of the oil. I'm leaving the old post up because the curry sauce is just as delicious as it was three years ago, but the double fry for the fish is a must.
- Scrub the potatoes well, then cut into 1/4" thick batons. Dry thoroughly with paper towels and leave them sitting on paper towels to allow the surface of the potatoes to dry out for about 30 minutes. You can skip this step if you're pressed for time, but your potatoes won't turn out as crisp.
- Mix the flour, cornstarch, paprika, and onion powder in a medium bowl until well combined. Dust each fish fillet with the flour mixture on all sides.
- Add 1 1/2" of vegetable oil to a heavy bottomed pot and heat to 330 degrees F. Line a 2 wire racks with 2 layers of paper towels each.
- Fry the potatoes in batches until a light tan color and the edges are just starting to brown. Transfer the fried chips to one prepared rack to drain.
- When the potatoes are done frying, add the baking powder to the flour mixture and whisk together. Then add the cold beer to the flour mixture and lightly whisk together. It's okay if there are still a few lumps, just make sure you do not overmix the batter or it will end up heavy.
- Dip the fillets in the batter and fry them in batches. Flip the fillets over with tongs when you see the edges start to turn light brown. Transfer to the second prepared rack as they finish frying.
- When the fish is done frying, increase the heat of the oil to 375 degrees F. Fry the chips a second time until they are golden brown and crisp. Drain on a rack and sprinkle with salt.
- Fry the fish a second time at the higher temperature until golden brown. Drain on a rack. Serve the fish and chips with lemon wedges or vinegar.